Japan is about to surpass the United States in per capita income. It is already an economic superpower, dominating large sections of world trade, and has recently begun to dominate the financial markets. In fact, the only material thing that Japan’s one hundred and twenty million people do not have much of is land. Its area is little bigger than the Indian state of Rajasthan.
In addition, Japan is surrounded by several other Asian countries whose economic progress is outstripping the West.
For the first time in several centuries the geopolitical center of the world is moving away from the Christian countries of the Atlantic to the Buddhist countries of Asia – toward the land of Zen. Will this change have any significance for your work?
The history of the world has been like a pendulum. It has never been the whole world progressing together in all the dimensions of life. At the time of Gautam Buddha, the East was at the very peak of its glory, richness, wisdom, and the West was still barbarian. There was no progress, no evolution. And after Buddha, the East started declining and the West started progressing. And just at the beginning of this century the West was at the peak and the East was just a poverty-stricken, uneducated, uncultured, backward section of the world.
It is possible that the East may again rise and the West may decline. But it is not my vision, it is simply the historical mechanics of a pendulum. My vision is of the whole – neither of the East nor of the West, because every growth of the part is bound to create a very monstrous situation. For example, half of your body grows, and your other half remains retarded – it won’t be a very comfortable, restful, beautiful situation. And it can be changed: the other half can start to grow, and the first half starts declining.
The mechanics of economic power, richness, have to be understood. Whenever a country becomes very rich, a few significant things happen. One, it loses interest in richness – obviously: it has it. The whole interest of the mind is in the longing, in the tomorrow. Whatever you have got, the tendency is to forget all about it. You see only the things which you have not got; you don’t see things that you have. So a poor country thinks about riches; a rich country starts forgetting about riches. And it seems psychologically valid too – that when you have it, what is the need to think about it?
So the first thing: whenever any section of the world becomes economically dominant, it starts losing interest in the very power for which it was striving for centuries. And secondly, the moment a section of humanity becomes very rich, dominant over the other sections of the world, it starts feeling empty, because now the old longing is no longer there. And man cannot live without a longing, man cannot live without a hope, man cannot live without tomorrow.
I am not counting the awakened ones; I am talking about the common man. To live he needs desire, longing, future. His eyes have to be fixed on a faraway star. But when you are standing on it, all around there is darkness; you have achieved it. And the greatest failure in the world is to be victorious, because at that moment you understand that you have been chasing a shadow. By being victorious you have not gained anything.
So the moment a section of the world – and it has been this way up to now – the eastern hemisphere or the western hemisphere, whichever becomes rich, comes to a point which is the dead end of the road, it starts thinking of things it has never dreamed about.